Entrepreneurship & Self-Employment

Phase 2: Prioritizing Professional Options

You’ve decided to take your skills and expertise on a path to entrepreneurship or self-employment. Making this decision is half the battle, but your brain is immediately going to all of the details you need to have nailed down before you can pursue this career path. You want to develop a business model that is both profitable and portable, which includes identifying the benefits and gaps in your existing network so you have a client pipeline, as well as all of the start-up costs associated with your new business. 

Phase 2: Prioritizing Professional Options


Milestone 2: Develop a Business Plan

By nature or by necessity in your life as a military spouse, you have become adept at having a building an airtight plan. It’s time to flex those organizational skills to set your new business up for success. Before you embark on your entrepreneurial or self-employment journey, outline your business needs. Asking yourself the right questions to thoroughly examine the business environment and identify how your business brand fits into it will help you decide how to build, manage, and market your business. Core questions to start with include honestly examining your own strengths and weaknesses, market conditions, and your potential competition. As you know, every good plan layout out supplementals to your own capabilities—and always contains contingencies!

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Create a business plan

You are busy, and anxious to start your own business, but taking the time to create a business plan will give you a critical tool for clients, investors, staff, and any other parties you will need to succeed and grow. Begin the entrepreneurial or self-employment process by creating a plan that will evolve throughout the life of your business. Use resources to get you started, help you assess your needs, and connect you with a knowledgeable mentor or coach as you continue on your path toward entrepreneurship.

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Assess and identify business needs

A business needs assessment provides a solid foundation for making sound decisions and helps you develop and strategically grow your business. This process helps you identify areas in which you may need to shore up your skills and helps you determine how to establish the support you will need to run your business effectively, deliver on its mission, and remain profitable.

Key Finding: Essential Tasks for Launching a Business

The essential tasks associated with launching a business require a diverse set of skills, ranging from technology to marketing to human resources.

Most Essential Tasks When Starting a Business
Building a website or social media presenceLearning the skills and technology needed to conduct the businessPurchasing materials or inventoryObtaining certifications or permitsCreating a business planGetting computers, printers, or Internet accessInvesting in paid advertising or marketingContracting business services (e.g., legal or accounting)Finding office or storage spaceHiring employees or contractorsNone of these

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Assess technology needs and find solutions

You may be new to budgeting, or you may feel you are no stranger to a budget. Like some military spouses, you might take the lead on the household finances. Your acumen with budgets will be useful as you try to project your business’ short- and long-term needs. Technology is a big, and often expensive, piece of start-up and scalable growth. Take your time to look for the most cost-effective and strategic ways to get the technology you need to operate your business. Before you purchase or invest in learning new programming or equipment, conduct a technology assessment— a process that will have you examine your workflow; evaluate your current technology; explore alternative solutions; and determine the resources needed to learn, use, or purchase new technology.

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Assess professional development needs

Owning your own business or being self-employed requires you to fulfill multiple roles, such as establishing your business or self-employment enterprise, keeping the business running or obtaining consistent work, and making your ventures profitable. You’ll be able to operate efficiently if you determine where you need to enhance your knowledge or improve your skills to best serve your customers or clients.


Raising seed funding, navigating license or permit transfer processes, and finding resources to get a new business started were identified as key opportunities for professional development among current or potential entrepreneurs.

Areas Needed to Develop Most
Building a client baseInvesting money, time, and effort with no guaranteed payoffLearning new and unfamiliar skills (e.g., financial, legal, marketing)Knowing how to self-motivate and manage your time wellFinding the information or resources to help get startedLearning to cope with additional pressure compared to previous jobsNavigating the process of license or permit transferFinding other self-employed military spouses who can be mentorsRaising seed fundingNone of these

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Calculate, raise, or obtain funding

To fund your new business or enterprise you will need start-up capital or “seed funding.” You’ve already projected your fiscal needs in your business plan. You’ll need to get your business established, stabilize the business in its early stages, and counteract any projected or unforeseen losses as the business is getting off the ground. Even if you have budgeted some start-up costs from your personal savings, you don’t have to rely solely on it to carry you. Look into start-up funding in various forms and decide what will work best for you.

Woman at a Spouse Event

(My startup capital) came from our personal bank account. I was lucky to have a very understanding husband who trusted that I wasn’t going to make us bankrupt. I have friends that have gone other ways – they have done things like Kickstarter or GoFundMe.

Key Findings

Most initial investments were below $1000, and the overwhelming majority relied on personal savings followed distantly by credit card debt to start their businesses.

Those with higher initial investments (> $1,000)
were slightly more likely to be small business owners (with and without employees).

Initial Investment in Business
More than $10,000$5,001 to $10,000$1,001 to $5,000$501 to $1,000Up to $500ZeroNot sure/Not applicable
Military Spouses89232126111

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Up Next: Milestone 3: Launching the business